#33 – “Number Two” (2008)

Here Come The 123s
A.S.: I’d love to hear a Danny Weinkauf solo album.
L.K.: I still remember when all the 123s stuff was brand new and nobody was quite sure who was singing this. I said probably Danny, and I am glad to know I have been VINDICATED BY HISTORY.
A.S.: Yeah, he sounds like nothing like the Weinkauf we heard on “Where Do They Make Balloons?”
L.K.: I don’t know about a whole Danny Weinkauf solo album though, that might be a bit overkill. He’s only had to come up with one song per kids album, so that’s, what, three songs in the past ten years?
A.S.: But considering that even within the limitations of writing children’s music he’s written three really good and markedly diverse songs, he definitely seems to have strengths as a songwriter. I feel like the Johns might have opened up the doors to Dan, Danny, and Marty for the children’s albums, possibly because maybe they were running out of ideas, or that they felt it was a good place to finally include the other band members’ compositions. For all we know, Weinkauf could have a whole bunch of songs sitting on the back-burner. So basically, if this, “Balloons”, and “I Am A Paleontologist” are any indication of his songwriting skills in kid’s music, I’d love to hear what he could do without any sort of limitation.
L.K.: Well, he seems to be mostly busy in the world of commercial music if his website (the aptly-named redpantsmusic.com) is anything to judge by. And yeah, the kids albums are the only time the other band members have had a chance to write and perform their own songs. It must be kind of creatively stifling to be a member of TMBG’s backing band since other than that, they aren’t really full partners in the enterprise.
A.S.: True, although I suspect they kind of knew that coming into the job; I suspect it was probably laid out nice and clearly.
L.K.: Not that I am suggesting the Johns treat them poorly or anything, because they’ve all been there for about 10 years (more for the Dans, less for Marty). But yeah, back to this song. It’s a catchy little number (har har).
A.S.: Oh geez It is a good song, probably better than anything Flansburgh wrote for 123s, as we’ve noted before.
L.K.: Part of me wishes it was written about just about any other number though, just because of what “number two” is a euphemism for. I know that wasn’t what was intended, but there are immature people everywhere… including children who would be listening to the song, incidentally.
A.S.: I can honestly say I’ve never thought of it that way before and now I’ll probably never think of it in the same way again.
L.K.: I didn’t until I saw people online bring it up. “One day at the beach, the next at the zoo.”
A.S.: Oh boy.
L.K.: It’s a really easy way to have the entire song ruined forever. You just have to… try and forget about that.
A.S.: Total 180 right now, this song reminds me of another artist whose work (which in his case could get incredibly nasty) is often overlooked these days, with the exception of the stuff he wrote for younger audiences, one Randy Newman.
L.K.: I was waiting for you to bring up Randy, since I knew you’d mentioned it in our conversations before.
A.S.: Yeah, Linnell’s piano playing on this seems pretty Newman-esque, although in a really stereotypical kind of way, like what someone would play if they were trying to parody Randy Newman.
L.K.: The super-affected vocals too. There’s actually a demo version where the vocal affect is less pronounced.
A.S.: Interesting.
L.K.: Off-topic, but I’m so fascinated and creeped out by the puppet father and son in the video for this song.
A.S.: One thing I like about them is how they look like they’re frowning.
L.K.: Robin Goldwasser is going to take over the planet with those puppets someday. That monkey puppet sure gets around (Jebidiah Deeply?). He’s got some pimped-out duds this time around though. Reminds me vaguely of that creepy muppet bandleader. This song has never been performed live, correct?
A.S.: Apparently not. Dan and Flans wouldn’t have to do anything though.
L.K.: Maybe it’d just be too many people standing around on stage doing nothing.
A.S.: And maybe it will never see the stage, if TMBG truly are phasing out the kids shows for good.
L.K.: I can’t say I would complain about that since I have no desire to go to an even shorter concert surrounded by toddlers.
A.S.: Same here, and I get the feeling that the Johns don’t either.
L.K.: Is it just me or are a ton of kids still showing up at the “adult” shows anyway (just not, you know, babies)?
A.S.: Yeah, but speaking as someone who saw Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and Jethro Tull when I was 7 years old, I can empathize there. Oh holy crap! Before we finish, just hearing the song again, I noticed that the first line has the exact same melody as the first line in the chorus of “King Herod’s Song” from Jesus Christ Superstar. I guess re-listening to that for the first time in five years the other night did some good, if by good I mean giving me another point of reference for this stupid blog.
L.K.: Somebody mentioned “King Herod’s Song” on TMBW too.
A.S.: Where?
L.K.: Under “Interpretations,” even though it’s not an interpretation.
A.S.: Right.  I usually try to avoid the interpretations so as not to taint my own views on any given song. I think that’s all we’ve got.  I’m getting a bit worn out on the kids stuff though, to be honest.
L.K.: Yeah. We still need to get to a track from Flood, for God’s sake!
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